Shawn Raymundo, Dana Point Times

The Capistrano Unified School District Board of Trustees met on Wednesday, June 26 for a workshop to continue discussing whether to place regional bond measures to upgrade several schools (including Dana Hills High School) on the March 2020 Primary Election ballot.

The trustees continued their consideration of the potential bond for the Western School Facilities Improvement District (SFID), which incorporates schools in Dana Point, Aliso Viejo and Laguna Niguel.

If passed by voters next spring, the bond would levy $34 for every $100,000 of assessed home value, providing the district with $293 million in proceeds to renovate schools in the Western SFID. Most of the proceeds from the bond would be used to upgrade Dana Hills High, Aliso Niguel High School and Niguel Hills Middle School by implementing new buildings, replacing portable classrooms and renovating classrooms.

During Wednesday night’s discussion, trustees spoke at length about whether to include small sections of Laguna Woods into the Western SFID. At issue was whether residents in those neighborhoods of Laguna Woods would benefit from the bond measure, as there are no schools included in that area.

Board President Gila Jones advocated for not including those sections, believing doing so could spark objections from voters.

“It’s a small number of houses,” Jones said, adding, “I don’t know if I think it’s a big deal, but it’s something someone might object to. . . .Iit’s just not worth the potential risk of some people objecting to it.”

Trustee Jim Reardon echoed Jones’ concerns, stating that if anyone from Laguna Woods raises objections to being included in the boundary, it could potentially hurt CUSD’s campaign efforts to get the bond passed.

“I’m not concerned about winning or losing; it’s about not picking fights,” Reardon said.

“It’s not going to influence the vote, but it’s going to influence the campaign,” he added.

Trustee Amy Hanacek spoke in favor of keeping those Laguna Woods neighborhoods in the western region. Citing the board’s recent decision to exclude Meredith Canyon—a neighborhood in San Juan Capistrano—from the Southern SFID, which comprises schools in San Clemente, Hanacek asked, at what point do they draw the line for cutting out small communities?

“I do find that not all folks think negatively; they do think of supporting the community and children and for schools, and I’d like to campaign in those houses,” Hanacek said.

Superintendent Kirsten Vital said CUSD staff will present two Western SFID boundary maps—one with the neighborhoods of Laguna Woods and one without—to the trustees for further discussion during their July 17 meeting.

At the following Aug. 21 meeting, the board would decide on which boundary map to move forward with.

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